TORONTO, Feb. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA) welcomes the recommendations made in the Drummond report, which include an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists.
"As the provincial government looks for ways to rebuild public services and create long-term sustainability particularly for the health care sector, Ontario pharmacists can make a significant contribution," said Dennis Darby, chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. "While everyone involved in providing health care in Ontario needs to consider the Drummond report carefully, what we can say today is expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists can provide more timely access to patient care, and improves the efficiency of health care spending."
Economic research from many jurisdictions supports the economic and health care benefits of using pharmacists more effectively, noted Darby. "Not only that, but Ontarians trust, need and expect pharmacists to provide more patient care, improve timely access to services, and contribute to the sustainability of our health system. Other jurisdictions utilize pharmacists in this capacity, and so should Ontario."
There are several recommendations in the report that highlight the contributions that can be offered by pharmacists. Implementing "changes to the Pharmacy Act to enable an expanded scope of pharmacy practice" and "regulations to permit pharmacists to administer routine injections and inhalations, including immunization" are excellent opportunities to improve Ontario's low vaccination rates while increasing vaccine access, particularly in times of emergency or pandemic. All 50 U.S. states as well as other Canadian provinces authorize trained pharmacists to administer injections, and the result has been increased vaccination rates.
Ontarians would also benefit greatly if pharmacists were enabled to prescribe for select minor ailments, as recommended in section 5-94 of the report. In many circumstances patients seek advice, assistance and treatment of self-limiting ailments like skin rashes or eye infections. The report recognizes the triaging role that pharmacists can play in assessing such conditions, and if still unresolved, in referring patients to a physician or nurse practitioner.
"Of all healthcare professionals, pharmacists have the greatest number of touch points with patients and caregivers, and yet, they are not utilized to their fullest capacity. As experts in medication management, pharmacists are trained to counsel patients and intervene on their behalf, if necessary, so that they can properly monitor drug therapy and make adjustments as needed in collaboration with other health care providers," said Darby. "By fully utilizing their knowledge and skills, pharmacists can contribute significantly to better health outcomes, drive system and cost efficiencies through decreased wait times and fewer emergency department visits, and provide more timely access to the care that Ontarians want, need and deserve."
About the Ontario Pharmacists' Association
The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 12,500 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients.
For further information:
416-441-0788 or 1-877-341-0788 ext. 4266